‘Malcolm & Marie’ Director Sam Levinson on Which Character is Right and Who Wins the Fight

There’s certainly a lot to unpack in Malcolm & Marie. Though the film isn’t plot-heavy, Sam Levinson (who wrote and directed the movie) packed a lot into the dialogue between the title characters. Nothing seems to be off-limits for Malcolm and Marie to discuss. One minute they’re arguing over whether Malcolm’s behavior can be classified as abuse and the next minute Malcolm is spewing jargon that only people will film degrees can easily follow. But no matter what the characters are discussing, they’re almost always at odds with each other.

Malcolm & Marie director Sam Levinson and Zendaya on red carpet
Sam Levinson and Zendaya | Monica Schipper/Getty Images for HBO

Like his hit TV drama, Euphoria, Levinson packed a great deal of drama into Malcolm & Marie. The trailer for the film warned viewers that it was anything but a typical love story but many people weren’t expecting such a volatile film. Marie and Malcolm wield their words like weapons, often tossing them out to one another and relishing in their explosion.

Zendaya talks to the ‘Malcolm & Marie’ director about how the film is being reviewed and interpreted

Reviews for Malcolm & Marie are fairly mixed and have managed to spark conversation about toxicity in relationships. But, funnily enough, many reviews boast conflicting takeaways and different perspectives about which character is more the villain or if both characters are simply victims of a relationship that’s run its course. In an interview with Interview Magazine, Levison and Zendaya spoke about the film and people’s reactions to it.

“It’s interesting to watch how things reflect and mirror the movie in that way,” Zendaya, who headlined Malcolm & Marie, shared in conversation with Levinson. “What’s been really interesting is everybody who watches it leaves with a different takeaway that maybe we didn’t see. A special thing about this film is that there is no real resolution.” Zendaya continued on to question her director about who he felt won and if he was intentional in leaving the film without a clear resolution or character to root for.

Sam Levinson reveals which character he thinks is right

While Levinson, like Zendaya, likes the fact that Malcolm & Marie can be interpreted in various ways, the director did have a clear winner in mind when he wrote the script and he thinks that’s made evident in the final chapter of the movie. “Who wins?” Levinson posed. “I think Marie wins. Who’s right? I think Marie’s right. I think that’s evident in the final scene and that 20-minute monologue. It essentially grounds the entire movie in her perspective.”


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Continuing on, Levinson revealed that what’s equally important in finding out who’s right are the hard conversations that his two dynamic characters have throughout the course of an evening. “But I think at the same time, the film is this Socratic dialogue between these two characters—about relationships, about filmmaking, about art, about partnership, about acknowledgment,” the Malcolm & Marie writer added. “And my hope is that people leave with whatever interpretation makes sense to their life. Whatever they see in the relationship that they want to take away from it, they will.”